NZTA announces preferred Pūhoi-to-Warkworth route


The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has announced the preferred route to build a new motorway between Pūhoi and Warkworth, just north of Auckland.

The new route will form part of the Pūhoi to Wellsford road of national significance (RoNS), aimed at improving safety, reliability and journey times on State Highway 1 (SH1) for freight, tourism and motorists.

As the main road link for the freight industry, the new route will better connect Northland to the markets of Auckland and the central North Island to stimulate economic growth in Northland and the Upper North Island.

NZTA State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker,says the agency’s traffic modelling shows that the average number of vehicles travelling between Pūhoi and Warkworth each day is expected to increase by around 60 percent over the next 15 years, and the new route would provide significant time savings for motorists and for commercial operators carrying freight.

“A divided motorway with a central median barrier will also greatly improve safety, eliminating the kind of head-on collisions which have claimed four lives on this stretch of highway since 2006.”

Mr Parker says detailed work to develop the next phase of the project has been progressing well, incorporating community feedback on the indicative route provided last year.  

While the overall route was similar to the indicative route announced last year, some alterations had been made as a result of community and stakeholder feedback. Details are available at link)

Mr Parker says the NZTA is committed to ongoing engagement with the community and property owners as the project moves forward.

“We appreciate that property owners potentially affected by the project have been waiting to see the preferred route so that they can plan ahead. At times, the wait has been understandably frustrating, and we thank them for their patience.”

Staff from NZTA have been visiting and speaking with property owners affected by the preferred route. A 3D simulation of the preferred route is also available to view on the project website.

Public information days are planned to answer questions and view a plan of the preferred route:

  • Tuesday 1 May: 4pm – 7.30pm, Old Masonic Hall, Baxter Street, Warkworth
  • Thursday 3 May: 4pm – 7.30pm, Pūhoi Sports Club, Pūhoi Domain, Pūhoi
  • Saturday 5 May: 10am – 2pm, Shoesmith Hall, Shoesmith Street, Warkworth

Mr Parker says the NZTA is aiming to complete the consent and designation process for the Pūhoi-to-Warkworth section of the highway by the end of 2014, and then be ready to construct.

He said an indicative route for the Warkworth-Wellsford RoNS section is not being announced at this time and a start date for construction has not been established.

“We are currently reviewing options for this section of the RoNS as part of a long term plan up to 2050 that will identify improvements for SH1 between Auckland and Northland. While our preferred option remains a separate, four-lane, off-line motorway between Warkworth and Wellsford, we are considering this alongside potential on-line projects to improve safety at locations with a high crash rate in the Brynderwyns and the Dome Valley,” says Mr Parker.


Improving reliability, safety and journey times

  • 2012 traffic modelling shows an average 19,700 vehicles travel SH1 per day between Pūhoi and Warkworth
  • 2026 modelling estimates this will rise to 31,300 vehicles per day using both the new RoNS and the former SH1
  • Time savings are expected to be greater for freight due to reductions in grades and better road geometry, which helps heavy vehicles maintain a higher average speed along the route
  • Five fatal crashes have occurred between Pūhoi and Warkworth in the past five years, from 2006 - 2010, four of which were head-on collisions. 
  • A divided motorway with a central median barrier and improved road geometry will greatly improve safety


  • Around 50 properties are affected by the preferred route between Pūhoi-Warkworth
  • This is a decrease of around 10 properties affected by the previous indicative route
  • Property purchase will be on a case-by-case basis as funding allows and may continue up to and beyond 2014


  • Estimated costs for the Pūhoi-Wellsford project are $760m for Pūhoi-Warkworth and in the order of $1b for the Warkworth-Wellsford section
  • The Pūhoi-Warkworth section has a BCR of 1.5 and the overall Pūhoi-Wellsford project has a BCR of 1.0